This Bites

An apple a day keep the doctor away, they say. Bullsh*t, I say! Because this afternoon an apple actually brought me to a doctor – or a dentist, rather. I explain!

I had an apple at 3pm. Also, I got braces 25-and-a-half years ago like pretty much everyone else I know. They were taken off in 1994; I’ve had a wire on my bottom teeth ever since. I’ve literally never had a problem with that wire; this is what the kids refer to as “foreshadowing.” I bit into the apple (as one does) and felt a piece of it stick inside the wire. I tried prodding it loose with my tongue and realized, hey, that’s a pretty hard piece of apple! Turns out it wasn’t a hard piece of apple but a hard piece of wire that’d broken loose and was now jabbing into the bottom of my tongue. Which is how I ended up at an emergency dentist’s office in Little Portugal having orthodontic work done for the first time in over two decades.

I don’t know what the takeaway here is, folks. I do know it was an unexpected way to end my last day in the office before April 24 – and that if anyone needs a great dentist in the west end of the city, drop me a line.

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I Feel Good

Five weeks into Phase Two of the Trintellix Taper and I’ve got a major new development to report:

I feel good. Great, even.

And that’s it. I know it’s not scintillating stuff, but it’s one of the most important things I’ve written on Stuff and Nonsense. I know I’m a cockeyed optimist, but I nonetheless feel an obligation to be positive when writing about mental health, to let those who are still finding their footing know that things can, and will, get better. Positive mental health blogging may seem like a contradiction in terms, but I promise to keep my little corner of the interwebs upbeat as I solidify my gains.

My next appointment’s in three weeks.

Phase Two Weeks Later

I’ve been on 10mg of Trintellix for two full weeks. I still hope to finish tapering by early June, though that’ll partly depend on Ze Doctor: whereas I’m raring to go he’s much more restrained. And I need that restraint, because as much as I want to get this over with it’s far more important to do it properly. Yeah, it means the withdrawal symptoms are going to linger, but they’re nothing compared to what I experienced when I stopped taking antidepressants more-or-less cold turkey in 2014. As I wrote back then:

Day one was fine. Day two was okay. Day three was bad; day four was hellish. Day four was when the withdrawal symptoms really kicked in. Strangely enough I hadn’t really anticipated the possibility of negative side effects, yet they were myriad and surprisingly aggressive. I figured insomnia would be one of them, since one of my antidepressants was a sleeping aid, and it was. But what I didn’t reckon for was the nausea, dizziness, obsessive thoughts, or general sense of dread (not to mention some of the weirder side effects, like the inability to eat dairy or an itchy scalp). I think I was so focused on the end goal I never really stopped to consider the potential pitfalls. It took the better part of two weeks for the worst symptoms to abate.

I’ll take mild withdrawal symptoms over that any day.

(Not surprisingly the symptoms spiked during my recent work trip to Panama City, and in retrospect I probably should’ve waited till I was home before resuming the taper. My next trip, a ten-day jaunt to Dubai, Istanbul, and India, finishes on April 20; after that I’m home for good, one long weekend in Pittsburgh excepted.)

Those lingering side effects are abating. Meanwhile, the improved energy, motivation, and mental acuity remain, suggesting this taper’s establishing a new benchmark. I honestly feel as though I’ve begun uncovering the best version of me that’s ever existed (typical etc, but it’s true). It’s not just the taper that’s getting me there: it’s also the lifestyle changes, in particular a renewed commitment to proper diet. I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2018 brings. And I can’t wait to see how I’m feeling next week, when the new dosage should’ve fully kicked in.

Riding to Conquer Cancer, 2018 Edition

It’s that time again: time to saddle up, bike a whole bunch of miles, and kick cancer’s butt.

ridelogo_2018_gen

Some immediate resources for you:

  1. My personal page. I’d be honoured if you’d consider donating to me. Thanks to those who have already; we’re almost a third of the way to our goal!
  2. Our team page. Once again I’ll be part of the Tragically Clipped, and once again it’ll be a power quarter consisting of Kevin (his ninth ride), Jonny T (second), and me (fifth), along with Heather Gardiner, who’ll be part of the crew. Together we’re going to raise over $7,500 for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
  3. “The Courage of Jill Costello” remains an almost indescribably potent piece of writing. I read it every once in a while to remind myself why things like the Ride to Conquer Cancer matter.

There’ll be lots more to come in the months ahead. On the amazing journey together we’ll ride!

Leaf Games I’ve Seen

I saw my first Leaf game 21 years ago today, a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in what was my only visit to Maple Leaf Gardens (grocery shopping notwithstanding). In honour of the occasion, here’s a list of the 94 (and counting) Leaf games I’ve seen live. It should go without saying that all of them have been at the Air Canada Centre unless otherwise indicated.

    1. Mar. 12/97: Leafs vs. Blackhawks – Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto (2-3)
    2. Apr. 30/99: Leafs vs. Flyers (2-1 OT) (Eastern Conference Quarter Finals Game 5)
    3. Oct. 30/99: Leafs vs. Flames (2-1)
    4. Nov. 13/99: Leafs vs. Red Wings (1-1)
    5. Oct. 7/00: Leafs vs. Canadiens (2-0)
    6. Nov. 17/00: Leafs vs. Lightning (2-2)
    7. Dec. 2/00: Leafs vs. Rangers (8-2)
    8. Feb. 10/01: Leafs vs. Wings (3-3)
    9. Mar. 3/01: Leafs vs. Senators (2-3 OT)
    10. Oct. 9/01: Leafs vs. Mighty Ducks (6-1)
    11. Nov. 9/01: Leafs vs. Devils – Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, NJ (2-3 OT)
    12. Mar. 2/02: Leafs vs. Sabres (2-2)
    13. Mar. 30/02: Leafs vs. Devils (1-3)
    14. Apr. 10/02: Leafs vs. Rangers – Madison Square Garden, New York (7-2)
    15. May 28/02: Leafs vs. Hurricanes (1-2 OT) (Eastern Conference Finals Game 6) 
    16. Oct. 14/02: Leafs vs. Penguins (4-5)
    17. Nov. 14/02: Leafs vs. Red Wings (1-2)
    18. Dec. 23/02: Leafs vs. Thrashers (5-1)
    19. Jan. 4/03: Leafs vs. Devils (2-1)
    20. Feb. 18/03: Leafs vs. Hurricanes (4-3)
    21. Oct. 13/03: Leafs vs. Capitals (2-2)
    22. Oct. 18/03: Leafs vs. Canadiens – Bell Centre, Montreal (1-0)
    23. Dec. 9/03: Leafs vs. Blues (2-3 OT)
    24. Dec. 20/03: Leafs vs. Canadiens (4-2)
    25. Dec. 23/03: Leafs vs. Panthers (5-2)
    26. Feb. 5/04: Leafs vs. Senators – Corel Centre, Kanata, ON (5-4 OT)
    27. Oct. 5/05: Leafs vs. Senators (2-3 SO) (first shootout in NHL history)
    28. Oct. 22/05: Leafs vs. Flyers (2-5)
    29. Nov. 15/05: Leafs vs. Rangers (2-1)
    30. Dec. 23/05: Leafs vs. Bruins (2-1)
    31. Jan. 20/06: Leafs vs. Senators – Scotiabank Place, Kanata, ON (0-7)
    32. Jan. 26/06: Leafs vs. Sabres (4-8)
    33. Feb. 7/06: Leafs vs. Thrashers (4-1)
    34. Mar. 4/06: Leafs vs. Senators (2-4)
    35. Oct. 4/06: Leafs vs. Senators (1-4)
    36. Oct. 14/06: Leafs vs. Flames (5-4 OT) (Mats Sundin’s 500th career goal)
    37. Nov. 25/06: Leafs vs. Bruins (1-3)
    38. Nov. 28/06: Leafs vs. Bruins (1-4)
    39. Dec. 5/06: Leafs vs. Thrashers (2-5)
    40. Dec. 19/06: Leafs vs. Panthers (3-7)
    41. Dec. 26/06: Leafs vs. Wild (4-3)
    42. Dec. 30/06: Leafs vs. Senators (2-3 OT)
    43. Feb. 3/07: Leafs vs. Senators – Scotiabank Place, Kanata, ON (3-2 SO)
    44. Feb. 12/07: Leafs vs. Islanders (2-3 SO)
    45. Oct. 6/07: Leafs vs. Canadiens (4-3 OT)
    46. Feb. 2/08: Leafs vs. Senators (4-2)
    47. Feb. 5/08: Leafs vs. Panthers (0-8)
    48. Oct. 11/08: Leafs vs. Canadiens (1-6)
    49. Nov. 11/08: Leafs vs. Flames – Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary (3-4)
    50. Nov. 13/08: Leafs vs. Oilers – Rexall Place, Edmonton (5-2)
    51. Dec. 23/08: Leafs vs. Stars (2-8)
    52. Dec. 30/08: Leafs vs. Thrashers (4-3 OT)
    53. Dec. 1/09: Leafs vs. Sabres (1-4)
    54. Jan. 30/09: Leafs vs. Penguins (5-4)
    55. Oct. 10/09: Leafs vs. Penguins (2-5)
    56. Nov. 17/09: Leafs vs. Senators – Scotiabank Place, Kanata, ON (2-3)
    57. Dec. 19/09: Leafs vs. Bruins (2-0)
    58. Dec. 21/09: Leafs vs. Sabres (2-3 OT)
    59. Dec. 26/09: Leafs vs. Canadiens (2-3 OT)
    60. Apr. 6/10: Leafs vs. Flyers (0-2)
    61. Nov. 6/10: Leafs vs. Sabres (2-3 OT)
    62. Nov. 13/10: Leafs vs. Canucks (3-5)
    63. Dec. 16/10: Leafs vs. Flames – Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary (2-5)
    64. Dec. 20/10: Leafs vs. Thrashers (3-6)
    65. Dec. 28/10: Leafs vs. Hurricanes (3-4)
    66. Mar. 2/11: Leafs vs. Penguins (3-2 OT)
    67. Mar. 5/11: Leafs vs. Blackhawks (3-5)
    68. Dec. 22/11: Leafs vs. Sabres (3-2)
    69. Jan. 3/12: Leafs vs. Lightning (7-3)
    70. Jan. 5/12: Leafs vs. Jets (4-0) (first time seeing the Jets in either of its iterations)
    71. Feb. 14/12: Leafs vs. Flames – Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary (1-5)
    72. Oct. 6/13: Leafs vs. Senators (5-4 SO)
    73. Oct. 30/13: Leafs vs. Flames – Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary (4-2)
    74. Dec. 17/13: Leafs vs. Panthers (1-3)
    75. Dec. 19/13: Leafs vs. Coyotes (2-1 SO)
    76. Apr. 5/14: Leafs vs. Jets (2-4)
    77. Oct. 18/14: Leafs vs. Red Wings (1-4) (Sam’s first NHL game)
    78. Dec. 16/14: Leafs vs. Ducks (6-2)
    79. Dec. 20/14: Leafs vs. Flyers (4-7)
    80. Mar. 13/15: Leafs vs. Flames – Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary (3-6)
    81. Nov. 30/15: Leafs vs. Oilers (3-0)
    82. Dec. 19/15: Leafs vs. Kings (4-0)
    83. Jan. 2/16: Leafs vs. Blues (5-1)
    84. Feb. 23/16: Leafs vs. Predators (2-3)
    85. Mar. 21/16: Leafs vs. Flames (5-2)
    86. Nov. 11/16: Leafs vs. Flyers (6-3)
    87. Dec. 19/16: Leafs vs. Ducks (2-3)
    88. Jan. 23/17: Leafs vs. Flames (4-0)
    89. Mar. 7/17: Leafs vs. Red Wings (3-2)
    90. Mar. 28/17: Leafs vs. Panthers (3-2)
    91. Oct. 18/17: Leafs vs. Red Wings (6-3)
    92. Dec. 6/17: Leafs vs. Flames (2-1)
    93. Dec. 10/17: Leafs vs. Oilers (1-0)
    94. Feb. 12/18: Leafs vs. Lightning (4-3)

The Leafs’ all-time record in games I’ve attended: 45W, 44L, 5D (that’s actual ties, not the NHL’s current understanding of what constitutes a tie)

Ativan

I almost forgot I even had a bottle of Ativan. I say “had” because I just got rid of it. I hadn’t taken one since June anyway, but I wanted those pills out of my life. I used to use them semi-regularly, but the more I’ve learned about Ativan (and benzodiazepines in general) the more it frankly scares me, and since I’m currently tapering off antidepressants getting rid of that bottle seemed symbolically appropriate. I once wrote: “Don’t be afraid to take Ativan, Seroquel, or any other drug your psychiatrist or family doctor prescribes.” I stopped taking Seroquel in 2014; all being well I took my last Ativan nine months ago.

Phase Two, Week Two

We’re a week into Phase Two of the Trintellix Taper and so far, so…not much of anything. I felt a bit sluggish to start, and while the obsessions that flared up the last time resurfaced they topped out at a 4/10. In other words: I’m experiencing mild, totally predictable withdrawal symptoms.

And that’s great, although I still don’t feel quite as good as a few weeks ago. If nothing else I’ve got a new benchmark: I felt so much better on 15mg than on 20. But it took three weeks on 15mg before I started feeling great, suggesting we’ll have a better idea of where things stand in mid-March.